Pros and cons of both models | Rare Techy


The midsize 3-row SUV segment is one of the fiercest in the entire industry, and countless proven competitors are constantly improving their flagships to gain an edge over the rest. Among them, the 2023 Ford Explorer and Volkswagen Atlas find are trying to make their space.

While both models may not be the best in the segment, highly competitive models like the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, and the 2023 Honda Pilot showed tremendous promise. However, they still present themselves as worthy options with many notable features.

In terms of pricing, both models start at around $37,000 for their entry-level trims, which puts them close to the segment average, and both manage to offer enticing configurations that make it harder than it should be to separate them. Here’s everything you need to know if you’re torn between the 2023 Volkswagen Atlas and the Ford Explorer.

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The 2023 Ford Explorer is faster than the Volkswagen Atlas

2023 Ford Explorer SUV
Via: Ford

Overall, both the Ford Explorer and the Volkswagen Atlas are able to deliver engaging handling for their class and a number of engine options to choose from. The 2023 Volkswagen Atlas comes standard with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque with an 8-speed automatic transmission and optional AWD or standard FWD. A more powerful variant comes in the form of a 3.6-liter VR6 that produces 276 horsepower with 266 pound-feet of torque. Equipped with AWD and a V6, the 2023 VW Atlas accelerates from 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds.

On the other side of the spectrum, the 2023 Ford Explorer offers 3 engine options, including a hybrid option. It starts with a 2.3L turbocharged 4-cylinder that produces 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission with optional AWD or standard RWD. The hybrid powertrain features a 3.3-liter V6 and electric motor with a combined output of 318 horsepower and 322 pound-feet of torque. Finally, Ford offers a powerful twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque, allowing the 2023 Ford Explorer to explode from 0-60 mph in just 5.2 seconds. That’s a fast time for the entire segment, making the top-of-the-line Explorer a good choice for consumers who want a three-row SUV with plenty of thrust.

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The 2023 Ford Explorer has a slightly better interior than the Volkswagen Atlas

2022 Ford Explorer King Ranch Dashboard
Via: Ford

Compared to the 2023 VW Atlas, the Ford Explorer has a more complete set of tech features and amenities, despite both vehicles starting at similar prices.

To put the two mid-level trims into perspective, $45,000 comes standard with a power tilt and panoramic sunroof, 10-way power front seats with heated lumbar support, driver-side memory, heated steering wheel, tri-zone automatic climate control. control unit, as well as an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 10.25-inch digital driver display. Materials are good but not cutting-edge, consisting of leatherette, feel-good plastics and squishy rubbers.

The mid-range 2023 Ford Explorer Limited starts at $47,000, making it slightly more expensive than its VW counterpart, but more complete in terms of quality and comfort. It graces passengers with heated front and second row seats, 10-way adjustable front seats, tri-zone climate control, heated steering wheel, dual moonroof and a luxurious Bang & Olfusen sound system. In terms of materials, the 2023 Ford Explorer gains an edge over the VW Atlas by offering full leather upholstery, brushed metals, and other responsive composites.

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The 2023 Volkswagen Atlas is more practical than the Ford Explorer

2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport interior
via VW

As seven-seat midsize SUVs, the 2023 Ford Explorer and VW Atlas are all about practicality, and both vehicles perform well. The Explorer has enough room for five adults in the first and second rows, while the third-row seats are best reserved for children. The VW Atlas offers a slightly roomier third row and more passenger capacity, and it also offers a larger 21 cubic feet of trunk space compared to the Explorer’s 18 cubic feet.

The Volkswagen Atlas is also slightly more fuel-efficient than the 2023 Ford Explorer, delivering an EPA-estimated 22 mpg with the entry-level engine, compared to the Ford Explorer’s estimated 21 mpg combined. However, the hybrid variant of the Ford Explorer is the most efficient of both models.

When things boil down to it, the 2023 Ford Explorer and VW Atlas are both very competent three-row SUVs with their pros and cons. The Explorer is a better choice for consumers interested in performance and a quality interior, while the VW Atlas is better suited for those who prefer practicality and technology.

Sources: Volkswagen, Ford


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